The X-Files

The X-FilesOrder this gameThe Game: FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are investigating a mysterious disappearance at a wharfside warehouse when they come under fire themselves – and then become the next to disappear. As junior FBI agent Craig Willmore, you are assigned to the case. Your mission is to find out what happened to Scully and Mulder…but in the course of investigating this case, you’ll find that you’re vastly underequipped to take on a job where enormous opposition will stop at nothing to prevent you from finding them. (Fox Interactive [developed by Hyperbole Studios, 1999)

Memories: I’m torn on this game. On one hand, it’s an exceptionally cool concept – the “interactive movie” experience that has been sought by game makers since the days of the 1983 laserdisc cartoon game Dragon’s Lair. But on the other hand, it’s a frustratingly limited (and limiting) game, not unlike that same dragon-slaying opus of yesteryear.

The X-FilesThe concept is similar – you’re trying to make the right set of choices in order to get you from one video clip to the next, hopefully resulting in the return of Scully and Mulder, the defeat of the bad guys, the saving of the day, and the solving of the mystery. (Wait – scratch that last item. This is The X-Files we’re talking about here.) It’s like any other episode, only you have to hit all the right buttons in the right order to see things go well for Our Heroes.

The video quality here is pretty amazing, but as the game is spread out over four discs, it certainly has the room to be. (The trade-off here, however, is that disc-swapping is a pain in the ass.) The video is in widescreen to allow room for the icons needed to play the game, and at a rough guess I’d say that the video itself is only a few notches below DVD quality. The intro is most impressive, complete with teaser and featuring the entire opening credits from the series.

The X-FilesI’m not sure, but I’ll bet some players were put off at the prospect of playing the part of someone who’s essentially a one-off guest star, rather than Mulder or Scully themselves. And if we’re consigned to guest star status, why not turn the clock back and put the player in the role of shady Agent Krychek? Now that would’ve made things interesting.

The X-FilesWhy do I find The X-Files frustrating? Perhaps because the whole “interactive movie” experiment just isn’t ready to happen, at least not with the order of technology that the Playstation or the PC represent at the moment. Dragon’s Lair offered you only two options – fight or flee – and thus was not entirely impossible to master. But The X-Files offers you so many more options – and any combination of your outward attitude, which questions you ask of witnesses, and several other factors could lose the game for you. It’s like the complexity of an Infocom all-text adventure combined with the unique rat-in-a-maze frustration of Dragon’s Lair, and that’s an unwieldly mix. Frankly, after 45 minutes of running into dead ends, I’m ready to hit the reset button and go ten rounds with Namco Museum.

The X-FilesThere are tools to help novices like me, though – such settings as “artificial intuition” give you an extra kick in the direction of vital clues. But the limitations of the experience of playing X-Files are what drive me away from the game.

1 quarterIt’s a worthwhile experiment, but (1) no one should have to go through this much effort just to watch an episode of The X-Files (thank God this game is in the pre-Robert Patrick era), and (2) it shows how far we’ve come since Dragon’s Lair and its brethren. Perhaps not as far as we’d like to think.

story concept by Chris Carter

directed by Greg Roach

Cast: Jordan Lee Williams (Agent Craig Willmore), David Duchovny (Agent Fox Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Agent Dana Scully), Mitch Pileggi (Skinner), William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man), Tom Braidwood (Frohike), Bruce Harwood (Byers), Dean Haglund (Langly), Steven Williams (X), James Lynch (Mark Cook), Sean Griffin (Armistead Shanks), Suzanne McGaffey (Mother), Zoe Warner (Child), Lisa Estridge Gray (Motel Clerk), Robert Lee (James Wong), Nick Eldridge (NSA #1), Richard W. Daley (NSA #2), Reginald A. Jackson (John Amis), Brendan Beiser (Pendrell), Nick Granado (Mendoza), Chuck McQuary (Stearns), Mark Farrell (Arley), Paige Witte (Mary Astadourian), John Gilbert (Harbor master), Lauren Tewes (Joan Truitt), Eli Lockwood (Crew-cut man), Randy Hoffmeyer (Dr. Rauch), Ted D’Arms (Smolnikoff), Jimmi Parker (Dr. McIntyre), Clifford Paul Fetters (Homeless man), Wally Dalton (Colonel Wallace), Harris Smith (Key guard), Brad Curtis (NSA man), Steve Keller (NSA man), Brian Kilcup (NSA man), Joe Willis, Jr. (NSA man), Laurel McConnell (Pretty woman), Alvin Castle (Black ops guard), Ron Garner (Black ops guard), David Oppenheim (Black ops guard), Raymond J. Reehill (Black ops guard)